September 11, 2009

Transplant surgery pioneer Zukoski mourned

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Charles Zukoski, M.D.

Transplant surgery pioneer Zukoski mourned

Charles Zukoski, M.D., who took part in performing the first kidney transplant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1962, died Aug. 24 from injuries sustained in a car accident in Utah. He was 83.

A member of the pioneering surgical team that performed the first organ transplant in Nashville, Dr. Zukoski's work helped position Vanderbilt as one of the nation's oldest and largest transplant centers in the country.

“We are saddened by his passing. Dr. Zukoski is part of the history and significant contribution Vanderbilt has made to transplantation,” said Wright Pinson, M.D., M.B.A., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs, senior associate dean for Clinical Affairs and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

“He was a great pioneer in early immunosuppression as well.”

A graduate of Harvard Medical School in 1951, Dr. Zukoski completed his internship and residency at the Roosevelt Hospital in New York and later joined the U.S. Air Force, served as chief of the Surgical Service of the V.A. Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., and completed a surgical research fellowship at the Medical College of Virginia.

He was recruited to Vanderbilt as an assistant professor of Surgery in 1961, where he spent seven years. After a one-year stint at the University of North Carolina, he went to the University of Arizona for the remainder of his career, retiring in 1995.

A renowned transplant surgeon, Dr. Zukoski was best known for his novel work in immunosuppression.

He performed southern Arizona's first kidney transplant in 1970 at the Southern Arizona V.A. Hospital.

He also co-authored a bill requiring hospitals to ask patient families to consider donating organs and tissue of the deceased. The bill became law in 1986.

Dr. Zukoski was honored in 2007 at Vanderbilt during the 45th anniversary celebration of the kidney transplant program.